Sex Transm Infect 83:52-56 doi:10.1136/sti.2006.020776
  • In practice

A randomised controlled trial comparing computer-assisted with face-to-face sexual history taking in a clinical setting

  1. R L Tideman1,
  2. M Y Chen1,
  3. M K Pitts2,
  4. S Ginige1,
  5. M Slaney1,
  6. C K Fairley1
  1. 1Department of Public Health, School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Christopher K Fairley
 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia; cfairley{at}
  • Accepted 2 August 2006
  • Published Online First 10 November 2006


Aim: To compare computer-assisted self-interview (CASI) with routine face-to-face interview (FTFI) for sexual history taking from patients in a clinical setting.

Methods: A randomised controlled trial was undertaken at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in 2005. New, walk-in patients triaged into the centre were eligible for the study. Those who consented to the study were randomly allocated (initially at a ratio of 2:1, then 1:1) to either CASI or FTFI. Those randomised to CASI also subsequently undertook FTFI.

Results: During the study period, of 713 patients approached, 611 agreed to participate in the study; 356 were randomised to FTFI and 255 to CASI. Overall, the responses to questioning using CASI and FTFI were similar except that women undertaking the CASI reported a significantly higher median number of male partners for the preceding 12 months (3 v 2, p = 0.05) and the CASI participants reported previous hepatitis B vaccination more often (50% v 37%, p = 0.01). Most participants found the CASI either easy (31; 13%) or very easy (193; 82%) to complete; 83 (35%) were comfortable and 121 (51%) were very comfortable with it.

Conclusions: CASI may be a reliable, efficient and highly acceptable method for the screening of sexual risk in clinical sexual health settings and could be used routinely to improve the efficiency of clinical services.


  • Published Online First 9 November 2006

  • Funding: RLT is in receipt of a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Scholarship (209153). MC is supported by an NHMRC Public Health Fellowship (400399). SG is supported by the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • The contribution of authors was as follows: RT, MP and CKF conceived the study design; RT, MS and SG collected the data; RT, CKF and MC analysed and interpreted the data; and all authors drafted the article.

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